Abriana* has an IQ under 70. Now 18, she had been a KidsVoice client years ago as a young child. Nevertheless, when a representative from Allegheny County reached out about Abriana’s case—she was homeless—we were ready to help.

Abriana’s mother is abusive and they have a very difficult relationship. Abriana would stay at her mother’s house sometimes, but more often preferred taking her chances living on the streets. This is particularly dangerous during the COVID-19 crisis. Abriana resisted staying in homeless shelters because she had PTSD resulting from assaults she had suffered in past visits.

KidsVoice helped Abriana apply for Social Security benefits. Abriana’s initial application was denied, which unfortunately is not uncommon. Without an advocate, many people stop there. KidsVoice appealed the determination.

KidsVoice is also helping Abriana reapply to register with the Office of Developmental Supports (ODS)—her previous attempt had failed. Initially, ODS was resistant to reopening Abriana’s application, but after KidsVoice presented a thorough review of Abriana’s past history, her pressing needs, and the challenges of her intellectual disability, ODS agreed. KidsVoice now is advocating for Abriana to receive lifetime supports with housing and options for job training through a state-funded ODS waiver.

In the meantime, KidsVoice helped Abriana obtain homeless services that she was not aware of. Those services should help Abrianna in the interim while KidsVoice fights for her longer-term lifetime benefits through Social Security and the ODS waiver, both of which require sustained advocacy efforts over a long timeline.

Though Abriana nearly slipped through the cracks with no safety net during a time of crisis, KidsVoice was there and will continue to advocate for resources to help stabilize her life.

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